Nerds and Geeks To Be Treated Like Dolts Again by AMC with Their Latest Show

So, back in the 90’s (I feel like I say that way too often, but it’s relevant, and it was a great fucking time), the Sci-Fi Channel (when it was called that) had a fun little news/interview show called SF Vortex hosted by the now somewhat famous, Roger Lodge. You can still find some episodes of it on YouTube, including one with the cast of the classic and amazing vampire show before-vampires-were-popular, Forever Knight.

SF Vortex covered the latest sci-fi news, for the first bit, and then they’d have roundtable discussions at the end. The news was solid, but those roundtable discussions…those were fucking magic. Watching any remnants of it, you’ll see that while they show had fun, it wasn’t designed to be “funny”. It took the subject matter as serious as if it were discussing the latest from Arthur Conan Doyle. There’s even a classic episode where they had a full-on discussion that Mystery Science Theater 3000 may have been ruining science fiction by insulting some genuine great works of yore, and creating the idea that everything that’s old is to be mocked (and just try to get a network today to even mention that anything existed before Star Wars…pft…yeah right!). And there’s a VERY important distinction here: SF Vortex “had fun”, it wasn’t designed to be “funny”. Today, it seems that every show that isn’t a work of actual fiction being presented to you is designed to be “funny” and slapstick, as if all of science fiction is a really just a comedy once you step away from it. And that’s ridiculous and insulting.
Latest preposterous example of that train of thought: AMC’s Geeking Out.
Hosted by Kevin Smith (who I think is actually a pretty genuine guy and nerd) and Greg Grunberg (who I know little about but is a recognizable actor that has acted in Alias, the horrendous Ron Moore Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, and now even Star Wars). The idea of the show is:

The series, Geeking Out, will be hosted by Smith (Comic Book Men) and Greg Grunberg (Heroes), and will take a timely look at pop culture through a “fanboy” lens, said network officials.

 

 

“Kevin and Greg are both true fans of this content, and share a deep passion for talking about it, and engaging other fans about it. But it is their natural chemistry as hosts that really brings this idea together,” said Joel Stillerman, president of original programming and development for AMC and SundanceTV. “As part of our growing non-fiction slate, we wanted to create a broadly entertaining venue for hardcore fans and general viewers where we can break down all things fanboy on a weekly basis; and we wanted to bring those fans great interviews and exclusive looks into the world of fanboy culture. We look forward to sharing this highly entertaining duo with our viewers.”

Some of that lunacy I have no idea what it really means, but the language is so ham-handed that I can only come to the conclusion that this will not treat the material with any deep seriousness, and will likely go for cheap laughs and, “Hey, get the camera on this cosplayer that looks ridiculous!“, business that it’s going to be more insulting to fandom and nerds everywhere (of which I am proudly in your number) than it could ever dream of being enlightening.

And that’s a pity, because science fiction–good science fiction, anyway–is meant to be just that: enlightening. Perhaps they’ll talk more about fantasy? Fine. But then the beauty of fantasy is its appeal to “mythopoesis“, the idea of reinventing and reinvigorating mythology and world-building so as to shake our very core of reality, and to explore it in exciting, ancient ways without the reader even realizing it.

These are subjects not to be taken lightly.

Yes, you can have fun talking about them. And you can even crack jokes. But, in my opinion, the “right” to do that comes by proving you’ve got the nerd chops in the first place. Kevin Smith has them–even though I seriously question his taste at times–but who the fuck is Greg Grunberg? In fact, other than his “everyman” looks, I’m not sure how he keeps ending up in such top drawer franchises (most of which are operated by J.J. Abrams, ironically). Maybe he caught J.J. doing the freak nasty with someone that he wasn’t supposed to and now he’s just threatening to tell the world about it if J.J. doesn’t put him in everything he makes? I have no idea, and no proof, but I don’t get it. Maybe Grunberg is nice guy, if so, I apologize. But then if he is a nice guy, he’d understand what I’m saying here.

90s-vs-today

This is another cheap shot by a network to get in some dumbass hipsters that think they know a thing or two about the more accurately named speculative fiction, and it’s too do native advertising for whatever bullshit is getting schlepped into theaters, “book shelves”, or on AMC as a network itself. And make no mistake, that is the core of all of this. They need to push off products on you, because they’re terrified that you’ll find actual quality content elsewhere…or worse…in the fiction of the past that they can’t easily make any money off of anymore!

Geeking Out will most likely (there is the tiniest iota of a possibility that I’m wrong) not be something that edifies the genres that I love. It will likely take every chance it gets to show my fellow nerds/geeks as some kind of freaks or something to be continually insulted (much like the atrocity of a show The Big Bang Theory does). And it will likely give no recognition to all that came before, and to the genuine challenges that used to be faced by nerds and geeks (we used to get beat up for even mentioning the TARDIS in the 90’s and earlier, how nice that you were dress that looks like one is considered socially acceptable now!)

It’s hilarious, really. I keep getting told, “Brian, relax! The nerds have finally won! We’ve won!” Well, talk about “funny”, but everytime I see shows like this pitched, or just turn on the TV, it still looks like we’re being used, picked on, and made fun of.

Fuck you, AMC. I think you’re just pulling off another early-to-mid-00’s Sci-Fi Channel…I’m sorry, Syfy…on people that actually lay down money and give a shit about speculative fiction and its content. Syfy, under the “divine watch” of the hapless Bonnie Hammer, took a station that treated speculative fiction’s roots and future with absolute reverence, and even did shows like Geeking Out right (the aforementioned SF Vortex, and Sci-Fi Buzz, Masters of Fantasy, and other shows), and turned it into a pro-wrestling airing, reality TV blaring, mind-numbing network that is only now finally getting back to what made it investable in the first place (with great new television adaptations like The Expanse), thanks to Bonnie Hammer taking her Eye of Sauron and pointing that gaze elsewhere.

If I end up wrong, and Geeking Out ends up being a fun (not overtly “funny”) and insightful look into the worlds of wonder that so many have grown up with and share with present and future generations…I will whole-heartedly apologize on this blog and on my podcast Sovryn Tech. I’d be happy to be wrong. But I don’t think I’m wrong.

Fortunately, we geeks and nerds are a very intelligent and clever lot. We see through your bullshit. And we build our own enclaves and content to satiate our appetites for intellectual pursuits, magical lands, and engaging universes.

And if all of what I just said resonates with you…well…welcome to the cabal. Speculative fiction needs you.

Carpe lucem!

 

donate_svtDISCLAIMER: The ZOG Blog is the part of this site where Dr. Brian Sovryn can talk about anything. From pop culture, to philosophy, to just sharing updates with what’s going on at Zomia Offline Games and with other projects.